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It used to be that you could buy something, and, if it was designed and manufactured with thoughtfulness, it would work for a very long time.  And the great thing about it was the fact that, if it did malfunction, you could either take it to someone to get it fixed, or you could fix it yourself. I have repaired many things myself or taken them to someone to be fixed. For instance, my watch… St. Moritz, made in Canada, I have had it since 1989, it is still stylin’. I’ve had many new batteries put in it, and I’ve had it serviced a few times… It’s great quality, built on the old style mentality of quality is best. Yes, this company has never sold me another watch, but, I think that the number of watches that I’ve sold for them by boasting about the quality of mine probably makes up for that. This is a company that can be proud of what it makes.

I notice a lot of people have a multitude of knives in their kitchens. None of them, work for any one job as well as my one knife… that’s right folks, I only own one knife. It’s quality, so it is possible to sharpen it to a razor sharpness without it chipping and breaking. Everyone that uses it says the same thing. “Wow…. is this knife ever sharp”. “Yes” I reply, “that’s how you get them to cut”. My knife can go from cutting fresh baked bread to tomatoes  to roast beef without any problems. That’s because it’s a good quality knife. A fool abandoned this knife in a house I moved into, so I didn’t even pay for it, but I will tell you that that knife is worth a lot to me. The weird thing about this knife is that it doesn’t even bear a stamp, or logo, so I have no idea of it’s origin. I will guard it with my life.

I have so many fantastic tools in my studio as well. Guess what?…. All the good ones that actually function as they should and live up to daily use are old. Some belonged to my grandfather and some I picked up in antique shops or found in garage sales. Any  other top quality tools I paid top $ for. No regrets. And again, I boast that quality to everyone I work with or they borrow the tools and end up buying the same quality because we know that in order to do our jobs well, we need good dependable tools.

I do appreciate that some things just keep getting better. Like technology, for instance…. I remember loading all my important possession into the back of my truck in 1988 when I moved to Vancouver from Kingston. I had my Vector Research Amp, Tuner, and Tape Deck and my B&O Turntable, my speakers, which took up at least 6 cubic feet, my 300 albums, and of course… my clothes. That’s it. That’s all that was important to me. There were no personal computers, no iPods, no cell phones (not unless you wanted to carry around an extra purse). There were CD’s but, vinyl still rocked best.  It was the year after I moved out here that my brother started telling me that some day I would be able to carry those 300 albums around on a unit no bigger than a credit card. I was doubtful.   He also predicted that quality would start to decrease in favour of profit, and that fine skills and trades would slowly disappear. He talked of ‘bartering’ skills in the future, because there would be few solid goods worth as much as skills.

Turns out, he was right…. it’s now very difficult to find anything that has the quality of goods produced in years gone by. If you can find them, they are only available to the very wealthy.

This is where things start to look crazy to me. It seems like a lot of the things that I’ve bought lately have had one of the following issues.

1) Built as though it could be fixed, but, when it does break, the part that breaks and the labour to fix it makes the repair  worth more than the original product purchase price.

2) Built to be taken almost directly to the landfill… but, first a quick stop off at home, so you can destroy any evidence that you actually purchased this seemingly quality product.

3) Things that just simply don’t work because the manufacturing is not precise enough

ie. tweezers that won’t grasp a hair

Some might argue in this case that you get what you pay for… I beg to differ….I payed for tweezers and what I got was a useless piece of metal that will end up in the landfill because it will not perform the function it was intended for…. or perhaps it  is fulfilling it’s function, by allowing a company to get fatter off people that just take it for granted that nothing will ever work! We live among a generation of consumers that have no idea that things used to tooled with precision and that there is no reason to put up with this crap that companies keep selling us to fill their pocket books as well as the landfills.

And, last… but, far from least….

4) Whoever manufactured it, had absolutely no idea of its’ end purpose

the BBQ brush that melts

the clapper with screws in the bottom (completely defeating it’s purpose by allowing condensation to build up on the screw heads only to drip back onto the fabric)

notchers that won’t cut on one side

These companies think they are so clever, “knocking off” tools. I can almost hear their thought process… “hmmm this tool is very expensive, if I change this aspect, I can reduce the price”… only thing they don’t know, is that that one aspect of the tool that they changed was the part that made it function for it’s original intention. They make the change, virtually rendering the product ‘useless’.

I happen to have examples of every one of these issues in my life at this moment. I call frustration and disappointment!

Bob Dylan said it best with his song ‘Everything is Broken

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